The History of the Lottery


The history of the lottery can be traced back to ancient times. Drawing lots to determine ownership of property was common in Europe during the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1612, King James I of England established a lottery in the colony of Virginia to raise funds for the settlement. Later, it became a popular source of funding for private and public organizations, as well as to help fund wars, colleges, and public-works projects.

Since lotteries can raise substantial funds for state-run projects and charitable causes, many states have adopted them. Although lottery revenue is not commensurate to other tax sources, responsible lottery players are still contributing to the development of their communities and promoting positive social change. Lotteries are currently legal in forty states. While they are considered harmless forms of entertainment, they do attract critics based on moral and religious principles. State-sponsored lotteries, in particular, are often abhorred by many.

The history of the lottery in Europe is complex. While many countries have been the originator of the lottery, some countries have been the pioneers. Early European lotteries were held as public fundraisers in French towns to fund defenses and help the poor. While France was one of the first to legalize lotteries, it did not enjoy the same success as many other countries. In the fifteenth century, French King Francis I authorized the first lottery. The first French lottery, called the Loterie Royale, was held in 1539. The first lotterie was a flop, however. The ticket prices were too high and social classes resisted the project. The French lottery was banned in France for two centuries, although some were tolerated during World War II.